Under Pressure

March 12, 2016 at 9:25 am

After a bit of trial and error, and psyching myself up to be brave, I did finally get to grips with the pressure cooker last season.

I’d bought it for £8 at Beaulieu Boat Jumble the year before and been a bit scared of it.  It is quite like cooking a bomb, and the first few times I used it I went and sat outside in the cockpit while it cooked, rather than sit in the confines of the cabin with it’s 5 foot/sitting only headroom watching it hiss angrily like a thing possessed.

If you spend any time aboard I definitely recommend getting one as they just save on so much cooking fuel, and time. There is a great article here about how they work and it also has a handy reference table so you have a better chance of not turning your food to mush so I won’t go into that. But I would just add that if you’re making something with spices, use half as much as the recipe says as all the flavours stay in the pot rather than escape as steam as they do in normal cooking and they can be really strong tasting. The first thing I ever made was a lamb and apricot tagine from a Jamie Oliver recipe and it was lovely and tender, but very nearly disgusting.

I also upgraded to a properly gimballed Origo spirit stove last year so was actually able to cook at sea for the first time too.  Here’s the recipe for my favourite stew in the pressure cooker.  I make no excuses, it’s not a very sophisticated supper, but it is incredibly tasty. So tasty in fact I make this ashore too…

Pressure cooking at sea

Alot tastier than it looks here tbh…

Force 4 Mince 
(You can probably make this up to about Force 4 upwind on my boat, after which chopping the veg might become a bit of a risk …Unless you’re in the Solent when you could probably rustle this up in a storm.)

Serves 2 big hungry sailors (or dinner, breakfast and lunch for 1)

1 big or 2 medium onions cut into half inch squares
Half a cabbage finely shredded
Half a bag of washed new potatoes cut in half (optional)
1 pack of fresh beef mince. Go on, treat yourself to the nice steak mince.
1 Rich Beef Knorr Stock Pot stock cube.  Needs to be the Rich Beef one, it makes a massive difference. Haven’t tried Oxo.
1 cup/half a mug of water
Black Pepper to taste.
Oil of your choice

NB It’s quite important to cut the veg so they cook uniformly. I cut the onions quite big so they don’t dissolve.

Boil the kettle and make yourself a cup of tea to drink while you’re cooking. Keep back a cup of hot water though, for the stew.
While the kettle’s boiling chop the onion and cut the potatoes in half (if using).
Throw the onions in the pan with a drizzle of oil and put over a medium heat until it starts to sizzle.
Stab it a bit to start to break up the onions.
Throw in the mince, breaking into chunks as you add it to the pan.
Keep it all moving so it doesn’t stick to the pan and to continue to break up the onions some more. I don’t bother to brown the mince properly, you just want to get the pan warm and start the cooking…
Add the hot water, and the stock cube. Make sure the stock cube is submerged.
If you’re having potatoes, you need to cook them a bit before adding the cabbage so add them to the pan and stir so they get to say hello to the gravy. Put the lid on and tighten it up. Bring to temperature and cook for 4 minutes to parboil them before letting the steam out and opening the pan up again.
Then add the chopped cabbage, close the pan up again, bring to temperature and cook for 3 minutes.
Let the pan sit and cool down naturally for 10-15 minutes, if you can be that patient.
Open up the bomb and add the pepper, to taste, at the end.

Serve in dog bowls with crusty bread, or eat straight from the pan.
Braahn sauce optional.
Nom, nom.

Supra’s Mackerel Poached in Sea Water

August 26, 2014 at 9:40 am

Had a lively afternoon in the Sound on Saturday… It was quite blustery, and I was headed out to The Eddystone, but by about 7 miles off the wind had built and was consistantly over 20 knots,and the swell was now fairly ‘significant’ (to me).

So I turned back to meet up with some friends in their rib who had been fishing while they waited for me and had a decent haul of mackerel to divvy up.  (They also brought their GoPro with them and took some film of me – can’t wait to see the results!)

Mackerel cooked in seawater

We headed back to Cawsand for a cup of tea, but by the time I got there they were rafted up with more friends of theirs on the yacht Supra who said they were going to cook theirs in sea water.  I was intrigued, and tried it… and it was pretty good.  The salt makes them really sweet, and surprisingly delicate tasting.

It’s really simple, just clean the fish and put them in a saucepan.  Cover them with (clean/open) seawater, bring them to the boil and let stand for 5 minutes.

Mackerel cooked in seawater

I had mine with tinned peas, carrots and new potatoes. Simple (old school). Nom nom…

Mackerel cooked in seawater

By the way, one of the mackerel catchers was my friend Debby Mason who is an artist and illustrator, working with mezzotints and etching.  I actually have one of her mackerel pictures (and love it).  Her lovely website is at www.debbymason.com

Also, Mrs Supra was one of the owners of the Forge 2 Gallery in Oxfordshire, specialising in British Art and Craft. Their website is here www.forge2.org.uk

One Pan Fry

August 20, 2014 at 1:06 pm

So you’ve been sailing all day and are moored safely somewhere relatively peaceful now.  The cockpit has been tidied up, and the sail cover may even be on.  You can still hear the wind in the rigging, but you’re well sheltered and on a buoy (so no need to worry about the anchor setting)

…But you’re tired, a bit cold, and hungry. Yes, definitely hungry. First things first; get a brew on. Then what to have for dinner?  Clearly nothing too adventurous on a one-burner stove (and we’ve had enough adventure for today anyway…)

Well, this really hit the spot one day last week:

One Pan Fry

Serves 1.

Slosh of olive oil
1/2 courgette
1/2 onion
handful mushrooms thickly sliced
1 tin ham cut into chunks
handful cherry tomatoes sliced in half
Salt and pepper
1 tin baked beans 
(Clearly you can substitute the veg for what you have, and if you’re veggie leave out the ham or substitute it with another protein.)


Slice all veg and the tin of ham so they’re about the same sort of size.

Heat the oil and add the courgette, onion and mushrooms with a pinch of salt and fry on a medium heat until til they are nicely browned (a little salt at the beginning helps draw the moisture, which then cooks off and they brown better)

Add the ham and let that warm through and start to brown too.

Add the tomatoes last and just let them soften.  Too much and they will disintegrate…

Season really well with lots of pepper.

Empty the pan onto your plate and re-use it to heat the beans (who likes washing up anyway?)

Serve with bread and butter if you are that way inclined (the beans are carby enough for me…), and of course a big mug of tea.

Harbour Fry

Eat with a spoon, wearing pyjamas…


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